FEED: What were the key takeaways for the successful launch of a radio station so early in your career?
ERIN TRAFFORD: I was brought in as a morning co-host and news person. But we did everything – flipped the switch, formed a great team, turned on the transmitter, did guerrilla marketing and so on. I learned a couple of lessons through that launch that have stuck with me throughout. The first is to never underestimate how smart your audience is. And that goes for podcasting, too. Companies that try to get into podcasting for brand building often have a desire to speak over an audience and say: “This is what I want to say, this is what I need you to know about me.” Therefore, launching The Moose [radio station] taught me you can’t
come at it from that perspective. You have to know that your audience is smarter than you – they’re always one step ahead, and so you have to do everything in service to them. When you show up in that way, you will have success. The other lesson, from a business perspective, was that The Moose was owned by a man who looked at radio from a listener point of view when he built the station. Through him, I learnt media business from a visionary when it comes to following the audience, while at the same time building a station from the ground up – where people would literally knock on the window to request a song on their way to work!
“YOU HAVE TO KNOW THAT YOUR AUDIENCE IS SMARTERTHANYOU – THEY’RE ALWAYS ONE STEP AHEAD”
FEED: In 2021, you launched Story Studio Network with your father. It states on your website: “It’s like hiring a newsroom for your brand.” What were the reasons behind its creation?
ERIN TRAFFORD: As media consolidation happens – with local newsrooms disintegrating and reporters losing their jobs – we saw a challenge for great stories to find inventory. I’m talking about stories Canadians want to hear; things relating to indigenous relations and climate change and poverty reduction – things that actually hit home and matter. The news landscape changed so rapidly, so we had calls from folks saying they’ve hired a great PR firm that’s out pitching stories but are either not getting picked up – or if they are being picked up, they’re only given a cursory regurgitation of a press release.
That’s when we started to think: ‘wouldn’t it be neat if organisations like that could have their own newsroom in a box?’. We thought about how it could be a production company, but also with an editorial angle that allows us to tell a story that is best received to create an objective outcome. A conversation, advocacy – like a groundswell of support. That’s how we work at Story Studio Network. It’s also why positioning ourselves has been a bit funny, because when you look at us from the top down we look like a production agency. But the difference is that we hire major market journalists, major market broadcasters and editors who are
able to sit with our clients. We work with really small businesses too – who can benefit from this kind of lens of how the story is best told. It’s not just a case of getting on the mic and blathering on, it’s about ‘how does this need to come out in order to have the impact that you need it to have?’. Now that we’ve been doing it for a couple of years, we have a few clients who want to use their podcasts to then break a news cycle. They’re starting to drive the agenda more, rather than relying on a machine of earned media that’s clunky for them. We offer this blend of broadcast-journalistic experience to facilitate that.
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